Most chefs, like fashion designers, are easily influenced and inspired by those who have gone before them and by the greater world around them. We learn, we adapt, we modify and improve upon the food we eat and even read about. We’re inspired by our environment, our location and even the weather. Basically, like fashion, there is very little “new” in the cooking world unless you are someone like Ferran Adria whipping up a liquid olive in a fit of molecular gastronomy. Cooking is reinterpreting the basics, over and over, in new combinations, to keep it interesting.
When I was looking for ideas for vegan dishes to make during the 21 day cleanse I did a few months ago, I came across dozens of recipes for soups/stews made with garbanzo beans (a.k.a. chickpeas). This recipe is not any one of those in particular, but certainly influenced by many of them. Nor is it “authentic” Moroccan cuisine, but rather inspired by the spices and ingredients commonly used in Morocco. I’d love to say it was inspired by my travels to Morocco, but alas, my two days there in 1999 were not much more “authentic Morocco” than going to Tijuana is “authentic Mexico.” I actually don’t remember much special about the food in Tangiers, but that just makes me want to return to see (and eat) more of Morocco some day.
This stew is hearty and filling by itself and because of the garbanzo beans, has plenty of protein. One half cup of garbanzos has 110 calories and 6 grams of protein. The recipe below is completely vegan, though I’ll admit I served it with some home made sausages (cooked on the side) which were a nice accompaniment. I also highly recommend you serve it with cous cous which is one of the fastest and easiest things to make (5 minutes from pot to plate, seriously).
How to Grind Cardamom:
The recipe calls for ground cardamom, and if you have some whole cardamom pods, it’s worth the extra time it takes to get the seeds out and grind them yourself. The fragrance is nothing short of incredible and blows the doors off the stuff in the bottle. Instructions below.
Clockwise from top left; Crush the pods until they break apart. Pull out the seed covers until you have nothing left but the tiny black/brown cardamom seeds. Grind them in a spice grinder until fine.
2 Tbsp Cardamom Pods=1/2 Tbsp Cardamom Seeds=1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
Many thanks to the lovely Chef Gwen Walters who enlightened me to this process in her blog post about cardamom. I filed it away in my head and knew I’d use it someday. Again, we are influenced by what we see.
Moroccan Garbanzo Bean Stew Recipe
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. cardamom, ground
1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
1 tsp cumin, ground
1/2 tsp paprika, ground
1 tsp chili pepper, ground
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes and their juice
2 cans (15 oz each) garbanzo beans (a.k.a. chick peas)
3 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock or water)
1 lb zucchini, cut into 1-2″ chunks
4 oz dried apricots, diced
1/4 cup green olives, pitted and chopped
2 cups (packed) fresh spinach
salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat a large pot (6 or 8 qt) and add the olive oil. Cook the sliced onions over a medium heat until soft and add the minced garlic. Add the ground cardamom, cumin, paprika and chili pepper and cook 2 minutes.
2. Add the can of diced tomatoes, the garbanzo beans and the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes and then add the diced zucchini, the chopped dried apricots and the green olives. Cook until the squash is tender.
3. Before serving, fold in the 2 cups of fresh spinach and cook until the spinach wilts. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with cous cous.
*I used ground chipotle chili
*I would have used fresh tomatoes if they were in season
*You can use dried garbanzos, just soak and cook them first.
* If too much of the liquid evaporates near the end of the cooking process, just add a little more stock or water and bring back to a simmer.